Griffin’s shot lifts USM past 49ers, 63-60

Griffin’s shot lifts USM past 49ers, 63-60

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WDAM) _ The past few games, University of Southern Mississippi senior point guard Tyree Griffin had been shooting anything but lights out.

But Thursday night, he turned the lights out on the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Griffin sank a 3-pointer with 1 second to play to break a tie and the Golden Eagles a 63-60 Conference USA victory over the 49ers at Dale F. Halton Arena.

“(USM coach Doc Sadler) said that if (Charlotte) opened the lane, try to get fouled and score,” Griffin said. “I saw that they overplayed (senior guard) Cortez (Edwards), so I took the shot.

“A win is great, but on the road is even better.”

USM (11-7, 3-3 C-USA) won its third consecutive game while evening its conference record after dropping its first three C-USA games on the road.

Griffin was one of four Golden Eagles with at least 10 points, scoring 10 while adding six assists and three steals.

Senior guard Kevin Holland scored a season-high 14 points, his first game in double digits this season. Twelve of his 14 points came on a quartet of 3-point baskets.

Junior forward Leonard Harper-Baker added 12 points and eight rebounds while sophomore forward LaDavious Draine came off the bench for 10 points that included a pair of 3-point baskets.

Senior guard Cortez Edwards scored nine points, grabbed seven rebounds and handed out five assists.

Charlotte (4-12, 1-4) got a game-high 20 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals from standout guard Jon Davis. The senior scored 16 points in the second half.

Sophomore guard Jaylan McGill scored 13 points for the 49ers and freshman guard Cooper Robb had 12 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals.

USM trailed by nine, 44-35, with 12 minutes, 52 seconds, left to play. But Harper-Baker’s two free throws capped a 15-5 run that lifted the Golden Eagles into a 51-49 lead.

Holland’s fourth trey of the game put USM ahead 58-51 with 5:12 to play, but USM managed just two points 0ver the next 5:11, while Charlotte put up nine points, including Davis’ jumper that tied the game, 60-60, with 1:15 to play.

But after Davis missed on a potential tie-breaking shot, USM had final possession, and Griffin came through with a buzzer-beater.

“You gotta give Tyree credit,” Sadler said. “He held onto it like he was supposed to and jump in there with a big shot.

“So many times, he's been in a situation where we've asked him to do so much late. You worry about him not having any legs left, but it was just a huge shot."

USM will remain on the road, visiting Old Dominion University at 4 p.m. Saturday in Norfolk, Va. The Monarchs (13-5, 3-2) have lost just once in 10 home games.

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